There is still something that bothers me even five years on, something I think I might be better able to clarify now thanks to a commenter at Pandagon. About September 11, Dan of Tinny Words says:
The most notable thing about life since that that day, for me, is that I’ve never felt anger over it, and certainly not fear. Only sadness.
And then that smartass* Auguste adds:
Which, to the wingnuts, makes you less of a person.
I am not in any position to speak for "the wingnuts." I am only able to speak for myself and this is how I feel about it: People grieve differently. People process loss differently. I don't think Dan's less-than for processing that day differently than I did.
I find the Kübler-Ross model helpful to illustrate more or less how I grieve. You are probably familiar with it; if not, here's a brief article explaining it, or here is my super-short version. Kubler-Ross enumerated five stages people move through when grieving:
It's a handy enough model, but what often gets left unsaid about it is that not every person experiences all five stages. People also may not move through them in the order listed; they may cycle or bounce back and forth among states. It isn't a linear process.
Again, when I read a comment like Dan's I don't see him as less of a person. I see him as someone who grieves differently than I do. There is nothing wrong with Dan or people like him. And there is nothing wrong with the people for whom anger was an early or prominent reaction on September 11.
I think back to the arguments that occurred regularly in the comments at Michele Catalano's old blog, A Small Victory (now defunct). They occurred mainly between Michele and other commenters (including myself) who were angry; and other commenters who not only weren't angry, but weren't tolerant of anyone else being angry. Not being angry yourself is not a problem. Not tolerating anger from others on the grounds that you're not angry, so why should they be?--Is.
They tried to shame us out of our anger. "It's been a year; isn't it time you moved on?" Or my personal favorite, The Hate Card, would be drawn: "I refuse to let what happened that day fill me with hatred, Michele, and you shouldn't either."
I don't think Michele was filled with hatred and I don't think I was filled with hatred and I don't think most of the ASV commenters were filled with hatred. But what I did see in the time between 2001-2004 were a lot of people, again including myself, who became increasingly resentful about being nagged to relinquish our anger before we were ready to do that. We clung to our anger all the harder as a result. And this should have surprised exactly no one.
You don't jolly someone out of depression by telling them to just quit being depressed. You don't crush someone's denial by telling them to stop denying reality. You don't thwart someone's bargaining by telling them trading is closed for the day. And you don't defuse someone's anger by telling them to quit being angry. To be honest, I'm getting a little angry all over again myself just recalling it. The people who dwell for a time in the stages of grief must be allowed to move through them at their own individual paces. About this I am adamant, not least because attempts to force them through a particular stage faster, attempts to make them bypass a stage completely, usually have the opposite effect from the one intended.
I tried once to write about what got me reading right-wing blogs and why I took comfort from them after September 11. I don't think I did a very good job of it. I'm not good with feelings. But the short version is that weblogs provided an outlet for my anger at a time when it seemed to me that every other form of media (with the possible exception of talk radio, which I have never enjoyed), was telling me that the worst thing an American could do after September 11 was to be angry. Well, I said bullshit to that and I think many people did. And I think that need for an outlet for anger, more than any other reason, is why we've got the idiotic wingnut punditocracy we do today: Because they got the traffic push early from people like myself, people who weren't finished moving through anger yet.
(I also think traffic is on the wane for a lot of them because people are finally finishing up with anger, but that's another post for another day.)
I don't knock Dan. In a way he's a lucky fellow to have been able to skip the anger. Anger is exhausting. I only wish more people who leaned left had been a little less quick to shush the angry, because some anger is legitimate. It is only a problem if one stays stuck in it too long or directs it at the wrong targets.
*Naturally I mean that as a compliment.